Nov. 17, 2011
By Scott Kotick, Seminoles.com
Since 1979, the man who sits in this chair every Saturday has become family. Every big moment, every game winning play, he gave it life and brought his listeners along for the ride. He just has the way of making you feel like you’re sitting on the bleachers with 83,000 screaming Seminole fans.
That phrase has become legendary.
“Touchdown Florida State!”
“He’s got more enthusiasm than anyone I know,” radio colleague Keith Jones said. “He’s got patented phrases like ‘Whirling Dervish’ amongst them that nobody else uses. The one thing about Gene that you can always count on, he will be prepared. It can be a fourth teamer, and he’ll have something to say to make that momma and daddy proud that their son got into the ball game.”
“It’s always been great getting in that booth and broadcasting Florida State football,” Gene Deckerhoff said. “Being in the booth it’s an office, it’s where I go to work. Red Barber said once that preparation is 90 percent of sports broadcasting, and that inspiration is the other ten percent. That was a little play on Thomas Edison, 90 percent perspiration and ten percent inspiration. It holds true in sports. The more prepared you are to do a broadcast, the easier it is and the more comfortable you are in your office and the better to tell the story about what’s going on.”
Deckerhoff’s story will hit a milestone on Saturday evening against Virginia, as he’ll take that normal spot in the radio booth to call his 400th game for the Seminoles.
When you think of Florida State, you think of the voice. The passion, enthusiasm, and the love he has for the Noles.
“He’s just a great person, high energy guy, and loves everything about Florida State,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He’s fun to be around, he truly loves it. The kids love hearing his voice, and they love hearing him say ‘Touchdown, Florida State!’.”
“Great guy, heart just as big as can be, and he never says anything bad about anybody,” Jones said. “That was one of the things Coach Bowden always talked about when he explained Deckerhoff to others. He’s just a caring, caring person who is much bigger than just doing ball games.”
See the great thing about Gene, he is the way we connect with the Seminoles. Everyone knows him, and that voice is unmistakeable. It’s part of who we are as Seminole fans. Whether it’s turning down that TV volume and cranking up Gene on the radio broadcast on Saturdays, or doting on every word he says during a crucial fourth quarter drive, everyone has a story.
But the story isn’t complete without letting him tell his greatest stories.
“Picked off by Colzie is one of my favorite calls, Deckerhoff said. “That was the interception against Florida in 1994 that enabled Florida State to come down, and then Rock Preston ‘3-2-1 touchdown, touchdown,’ and we tied Florida. It’s still one of my favorite games and always will be even though it was a tie.
“Puntrooskie has to be the number one play of all time. It’s one that put Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles on the map in 1988, and there were two highlights that I have in my top-ten list from the ball game. The second was Deion Sanders pointing to the Clemson bench, and you could hear him on the video replay and he would say ‘I’m taking this one back.’ Sure enough, he did. When he crossed the end zone, he went down on a knee and said a prayer, and everyone in that one end zone to the right had a cup in their hand threw it. It was like a hailstorm coming out of that end zone.”
400 games, and he’s seen it all. From sitting next to Bill Peterson in the late 70’s, to the national championships, heisman winners, he’s been there. Yet Gene Deckerhoff is the one constant. We always know that voice will come through crystal clear on our radios.
“Without Gene being around, I don’t think Florida State football is complete,” Jones said. “He is as big an ambassador for this program as Coach Bowden was, and probably in any way ever will be. He is Florida State.”
“Garnet is my favorite color obviously, and garnet and gold looks good together–that is Florida State,” Deckerhoff said. “I’m honored to be a member of the Florida State athletic hall of fame, the Florida sports hall of fame, and it’s all because of my relationship with Florida State University. I’m a Seminole, I’ll always be a Seminole, and I love saying ‘Touchdown, Florida State!'”
Yet if you know Gene, you know that Seminole fans mean everything to him. After all, you’re the reason he broadcasts games. So here’s where we need you.
On Friday, log on to our official facebook page at seminoles.com/facebook and share your greatest memory of Gene Deckerhoff. Whether it’s a favorite play, game, memory, we want to hear from you.
Help us thank Gene for the years of great memories and remember why he’s just the very best in the business.
So from the entire Seminole family, thank you Gene, for making us feel like family.